Posts Tagged ‘youtube’

Outings in the times of COVID

July 10, 2020

How I go on nature/bird outings: I go with just two or three friends, all of whom are (so far) healthy. We wear our masks, and sit one person to an open window.

We choose locations where we are not likely to find any other people.

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Champakadhama Temple at Bannerghatta.

Here’s the rushing stream of the Suvarnamukhi, just upstream of T K Falls:

Here is the cascade at Thotti Kallu Falls:

Don’t do it if you are not comfortable with the idea! However, my visits to the Bannerghatta biosphere (Gulakmale, T K Falls area) have been extremely productive in terms of many kinds of life forms, including birds.

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Lesser Grass Blue

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A Carpenter Bee with its wing stuck on a thorn (I released it gently.)

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My friend Biju with a beautiful tree

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Ancient inscription stones (probably dating back to the 9th century).

Here’s a Sirkeer Malkoha which the three of us (Biju, Prem and I) found foraging on the ground this morning, while exploring the general area. It then hopped on to a small tree, and stayed for a little while, delighting us before it flew off.

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Bannerghatta biosphere, several visits.

Begur Lake, a triumph of rejuvenation! 060620

June 8, 2020

The last couple of occasions I had visited Begur Lake, it was under renovation, and we were a little concerned about how the job would be carried out.

Well, on Saturday the 6th, a few of us

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decided to visit the lake, as Dhanapal has been getting such excellent images from there; and we were very happy that we did; the birds (and other living beings) are back at, and in, the lake.

The onset of the monsoon meant that we walked on to the lake bund. Following Dhanapal’s directions, we walked along the eastern bund instead of the western one near which the Panchalingeswara temple stands. We found several stands of reeds and almost immediately, our attention was riveted by the variety of birds that we found. Coots, Grebes, Egrets (all sizes), Herons (both the common colours of grey and purple) all went about their business of securing breakfast in their different ways, ducking in the water, or wading along the shoreline.

In a while, we could discern even more activity in the reeds. Streaked Weavers were building their nests, carrying long reed-leaves to one stand and expertly weaving them in;

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In this connection, I would like to add two excellent videos Ashwin has made, of Streaked Weavers feeding their young:

and

Pond Herons in fine breeding plumage

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stood stock-still while their sharp eyes scanned the water; and a few Yellow bitterns, which are rather difficult to sight as a rule, were quite clearly visible as, clutching the reeds with both feet, they darted their beaks into the muddy ground for insects, snails or a small fish.

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The typical spider-like movement of these birds, along the reeds instead of over the ground, made them easy to identify, and tell apart from the Pond Herons.

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For many of us, this was a “lifer” (a bird being seen for the first time) and the binoculars and the cameras were very busy indeed!

One surprising fact was that there were far more Brahminy Kites than Black Kites, in a city where the reverse is often true. We enjoyed their soaring, and their swoops into the water to catch fish, the attempts being successful occasionally.

Cormorants, Little, Indian and Great, were in plenty, and flew in and out of the lake, stippling the water as they landed or took off. Overhead, too, they formed skeins as they disappeared into the brightening sky, perhaps bound for other water bodies. Several Darters added their zigzag snake-necks to our bird count.

Several Spot-billed Pelicans were found in the far reaches, while a few swam lazily around nearer to where we stood. We found only a few Spot-billed Ducks, and some Lesser Whistling Ducks, far away. Meanwhile, Ashy and Plain Prinias, and one single Clamorous Reed Warbler, delighted us at the front of our birding stage. Both the Bronze-winged

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and the Pheasant-tailed Jacanas wandered around, the males of the latter in their spectacular “comma-tail” breeeding plumage. For some reason, there were only two Painted Storks, one of which struggled (successfully!) with a very large fish, as we looked on.

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Purple Swamphens

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and Common Moorhens added both colour and black-and-red, and we saw the Pied, White-breasted and the Small Blue Kingfisher. Red-rumped Swallows collected mud for their nests, from the shore.

Indeed, I would say that Begur lake is an ideal spot for bird watching and bird photography. One does not need to walk far; the light of the morning sun falls on the birds; one can watch the behaviour of the birds at leisure, rather than just sighting them and moving on. The first frenzy of the cameras gives way to the calm use of the binoculars!

Nor were birds the only thing that caught our attention, Starting with a gleaming Jewel Bug at the entrance, many handsome six footers welcomed us to the lake. Pentatomid bugs, Net-winged Beetles,

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different kinds of bees and wasps nectaring and gathering pollen

and several spiders which were ready to catch any unwary ones,

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Lynx spider killing a bee which came to nectar in the Dhatura flower.

dragonflies

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Ruddy Marsh Skimmer

and damselflies

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…there was no dearth of six- and eight-legged creatures. Several butterflies woke up

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Lesser Grass Blue

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Mating Mottled Emigrants

and flitted around as the sunlight warmed up; we saw Emigrants, Common and Crimson Roses, some Blues, Tawny Costers…and so the list went.

The lake itself was redolent with the peace of the morning. Scudding grey and white moisture-bearing clouds, across patches of freshly-washed blue skies;

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the reflection of those clouds, along with the old Panchalingeswara temple and the multicoloured buildings of Begur, in the waters of the lake; the fresh monsoon breeze and the gentle monsoon sunshine..it was utterly delightful to be out in the open air, enjoying all of this.

Alas, some trash has also made an appearance at the lake, as has some stagnant areas with stinking algae,

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but with the easing of the lockdown, I hope that the lake will be better maintained.

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Mexican Poppy

We shared our snacks (having removed our masks for a bit, in case you were wondering) and munched contentedly with the ease of undemanding camaraderie, and went homes with our spirits lifted and our memories, and memory cards, filled up!

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I have posted my photos on Flickr

here

and on FB at

here

The eBird list is
here

Looking forward to more outings with all of us having our good health intact,

Deepa.

The menagerie and the porcupine, 050620

June 5, 2020

Of late, we have a large collection of birds and animals in the house.

This started with Pik and Pok, two woodpeckers made with the fingers of both my hands, which helped wake K2 up in the morning, and also made mealtimes easier.

These were then joined by San and Diego (both of K2’s hands), Ta Claus and Rox (add San to the beginning of one name and to the end of another….both of K2’s hands).

Further additions were two birds called “Buh” and “Erd” (Derek’s hands), and several deer (Reed and Blitzen with my hands, Julius and Caesar (K2’s hands) Cleo and Patra and Hatshep and Sut (K1’s hands).

Yesterday, suddenly K2 came up with a porcupine which throws out its quills in the most realistic way! Here you have my tiger approaching it in the forest, and it opens up its spines menacingly, with the “shinnnn!” sound! He thought ot this by himself.

The terrace and the window..

March 30, 2020

Being housebound is not very tough for me, as we have our essential supplies, and are quite used to doing our house chores without maids. But certainly, the time spent indoors has been very rewarding because of the two features of our apartment, that form my subject title.

The builders of this apartment designed the terrace in a rather unusual way; the access is only through one of the bedrooms, so I cannot go out on to it whenever I wish to. However, one window in the living area has a view of the terrace, and I sit at my laptop, facing the many pots placed there.

I always have noticed the Red-whiskered Bulbul pair that flies around, as well as many Purple-rumped Sunbirds. That, I thought, was the sum total of what I would see through the window.

Of course, you all know that the story has turned out differently! One day, both my son in law (I typed sin in law, which is a very interesting relationship!) and I watered the plants, and apart from the shallow plate kept on the floor of the terrace, a couple of pots had an inch or two of water in them.

The two Bulbuls, which had, so far, disdained using the shallow plate, suddenly decided that the muddy water in the pot was ideal for their hamam! First the adults, and then the juvenile, would come and alight at the edge of the pots, and very carefully look, and hop around, the edges. Then, emboldened, they would sit in the water and splash to their hearts’ content, coming out and sitting on a branch of the small Frangipani tree, “shivering” themselves out and preening, with that fashionable “wet-spiky” look.

I started hearing the tiny cheeping sounds of the Sunbirds too; but they were much more wary in approaching the pots, and would often only take a dainty sip or two before flying off. However, as I started watering the plants both morning and evening, I started seeing them having a quick dip, too. They would perch mostly on a small twig just above the water, and pick their moment to dip in.

Then came a bird with its “upticked” tail…yes, a little Tailorbird, which literally zoomed in and out like one of the bazooka lenses that my friends use! After the rapid bath, though, its call was loud and clear.

The Bulbuls, I found, are bullies! They often sit on the edge of the pots, not allowing the other birds to come near at all.That probably accounts for the lightning-fast visits of the Tailorbird and the Sunbirds!

Meanwhile, the squirrels did not come to have a bath, but did come over to take a little drink from the pots. They whisked themselves into gravity- defying poses on the branches of the Frangipani, and would then scurry off.

I must say, there are no House Sparrows, and the Barbets, Koels and Pigeons seem not to want to bathe in the water at all; so I thought to myself that three was the total of birds that were bathing and drinking. However, I corrected myself when an Oriental White-eye delighted me by coming in for a very, very brief visit! Here I sit, now, with my eyes glued to the terrace in the fading light of a warm evening, hoping to see the yellow beauty again.

The household chores call, as do two active young grandchildren who want to play a card game with me; but still I sit on, looking through the window, into the world of the thirsty squirrels and the bathing avians.

I took a quick video of one of the Bulbuls bathing. It was through the glass of the window, and the anti-mosquito wire mesh too, so it’s a little hazy:

Birding at home, 250320

March 25, 2020

It is the first day of the total 21-day lockdown announced by our Prime Minister. I decided to move to my daughter’s home as that makes more logistical sense.

I have watered all the plants in the pots on the terrace, not knowing that my son in law has already done so. This results in a pool of water in some of the pots (though the Coleus plants still look droopy and deprived).

I come inside and sit, typing random stuff on my laptop; the terrace is visible through the grille of the window, which also has an anti-mosquito mesh.

To my delight, one of the pair of Red-whiskered Bulbuls that are resident in the building, decides on a long, luxurious bath in one of the pots! After a few delighted moments, I quickly get my camera, and the following video.

I wasn’t able to get the lady sunbird that was feeding off the Hibiscus earlier; I am glad I’ve had more success this time, though it was through the grille and the net…I can call it the Internet Bulbul!

The bird flies off, and I return to my work, smiling happily to myself.

The Leaf-cutter Bee making a nest….

March 24, 2020

We were at the Kanakapura Police Station,

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trying to make a complaint to the traffic police (why and how is another long story!) and while Jayashree and I were waiting for Deepak to finish his work, we noticed a small insect flying into the open tube of the steel chair.

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I quickly realized that it was a

Leaf-cutter Bee

and that it was trying to make a nest in this space!

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I tried to take photos of it, and got just a couple of shots at odd intervals.You can see a fragment of a leaf being brought in every time.

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It was very tough to click because of the speed at which the insect went in…and since it came out even faster (it didn’t have the burden of the leaf!) I missed it several times. Then, I decided to take a video and got the insect leaving the hole.

You can see the bee zooming out:

Leaf-cutter Bees are mostly solitary, and build their nest cells in various cavities (the hollow arm of the chair appeared very suitable to this insect!) by cutting leaves or collecting resin and bringing them inside. They are, for the most part, above-ground nesters and more commonly attracted to artificial nests…and this one certainly was!

There is afossil record for megachilid from a Middle Eocene dicotyledonous leaf which shows definite semicircular cutouts along its margin, implying that leaf-cutting bees existed at that time.Amazing!

When Deepak came back after finishing his work, he might have felt that we were getting tired or bored…but thanks to the Leaf-cutter Bee, we never knew where the time went! Another opportunity for observing Nature at work in the most unexpected of places.

The Yellow-throated Sparrow, Mudumalai, 290220

March 2, 2020

Those who know their Indian bird lore know that the Chestnut-shouldered Petronia is the bird that inspired Dr Salim Ali to become an ornithologist. It was earlier called the Yellow-throated Sparrow, as the male shows a yellow throat in the breeding season. I caught these two males (you can see the yellow throat patch) at Mudumalai, Tamil Nadu, on 29 Feb ’20.

Tusker being bathed, Mudumalai, 290220

March 2, 2020

Not all captive elephants are ill-treated. I am happy to post this video of a camp elephant at Mudumalai, luxuriating in the stream. In the second video, you can see the mahout lovingly scrubbing the ears and head of this majestic tusker!

Here the mahout lovingly scrubs the ears and head:

I would love to sink down into a stream like that and have someone bathe me! Pampering is the word for it.

European Bee-eaters, Mavathur Kere, off Kanakapura Road, 170220

February 17, 2020

eBird list, 47 species:

https://ebird.org/checklist/S64628920

Vapour rising from the lake in the dawn light:

Rufous-tailed Lark parent and child:

Natural strobe at NASA’s restaurant on Kanakapura Road:

Dawn:

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European Bee-eaters:

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Small Blue Kingfisher:

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Rufous-tailed Larks:

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Woolly-necked Stork:

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Pond Heron:

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Brefus at NASA’s:

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Flickr albums and videos of 3rd bird survey at Satpura Tiger Reserve, 04-110220

February 11, 2020

04,05,06 Feb, train to Itarsi/Sohagpur/Madhai, and morning birding at Madhai mud flats

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7th Feb, Parraspani:

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8th Feb, Parraspani and Dhargaon:

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9th Feb, Parraspani and return to Madhai:

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Praveen was sent to Podar and returned to Churna for the last night. We took 2.5 to 3 hours to get there and to return to Madhai. No phones, no food, no forest guard.

Crossing the Denwa river at Parraspani:

Nilgai family on the way back from Dhargaon to Parraspani:

Chital swimming across the river at Madhai:

Little Ringed Plover bathing, Madhai: